Showing posts with label legislation. Show all posts
Showing posts with label legislation. Show all posts

Tuesday, 12 December 2017

Turnbull was out and about in an orgy of self-praise in the days following Australian Parliament vote for same-sex marriage


“I've personally delivered the marriage bill to the Governor-General. Same sex marriage will be the law of the land at midnight!” [Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull, Twitter, 8 December 2017]

Coffs Coast Advocate, 8 December 2017:

AUSTRALIAN Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull has hailed the passage of same-sex marriage legislation in Canberra as a "huge success" in a "day of joy".

"What a day. What a day. What a day in history. What a day for love," the Prime Minister said on The Project.

"What a day to put our arms around same-sex couples and say we love you, we respect you, you have all the rights that everyone else has had for so long - now we're all at one."

While he acknowledged the postal survey had a "few critics", Turnbull said it allowed the country to have their say and he was "so proud" to be the country's leader "when we have made this big decision."

When shown comments from same-sex marriage advocate Magda Szubanski accusing him of "gloating and taking credit" for what has been a painful and divisive few months for many, the PM was unrepentant.

"We have delivered this. But we've delivered this in a way that is respected all Australians and it's now the law of the land," he said.

Speaking to Leigh Sales on 7.30, Mr Turnbull expressed similar sentiments.

"I am so proud this has occurred while I'm prime minister, while the Liberal and National parties are in government," he said.

"Surely you would also like to acknowledge that the Labor Party has played a role in getting this legislation through," Ms Sales shot back.

"Well, look Leigh, this is not the time to do the usual tit-for-tat. I mean, Labor certainly supported it, and that's good. They had six years in office and did nothing about it. That's not so good.
And of course they did everything they could to stop every Australian from having their say."

That is not exactly how I remember it, Mr. Turnbull……….

On 3 December 2011, Australian Labor Party’s policy platform was amended to include support for same-sex marriage, with Labor parliamentarians allowed a conscience vote on the issue.

Then on 19 September 2012  Marriage Amendment Bill 2012, A Bill for an Act to amend the Marriage Act 1961 to establish marriage equality for same-sex couples, and for related purposes, introduced by Labor MP for Throsby Stephen Jones on 13 February 2012, voted down in Division on 19 September, Aye votes included – Shorten, WR, Noe votes included - Turnbull, MB.

It took until 8 August 2016 before the Australian Marriage Law Postal Survey was announced and, as a voluntary, national non-binding postal survey on the question of same-sex marriage it did not require a vote in the Australian Parliament in order for this survey to be conducted.

By 10 August 2017 Leader of the Opposition Bill Shorten had delivered the Matter of Public Importance – Marriage speech in the House of Representatives supporting same-sex marriage survey:

But we cannot let illegitimate tactics deter us; we cannot sit on the sidelines. I can understand LGBTI Australians' sense of frustration and of betrayal by the parliament. But the most powerful act of resistance is to vote yes for equality. Maintain your hope, maintain your enthusiasm and vote yes. And make sure your friends, relatives, colleague, classmates and teammates vote yes too. Get your name on the electoral roll today; make your voice heard. Voting yes is not about endorsing this illegitimate process, it's about refusing to walk past our fellow Australians when they need us. This is my message for business leaders, sporting clubs, the union movement and community groups: it's time to get involved; it's time to organise and fight for equality……I will be voting yes. I will be campaigning for a yes vote. I will do my bit, and I encourage people to join the movement for marriage equality, because no true leader is ever too busy to fight for the fair go in this country.  

Australian Marriage Law Survey forms began to be posted out to eligible voters on 12 September 2017.

However, the only person stopping the tabling of a new bill amending the C'wealth Marriage Act 1961 between August 2015 and September 2017 was you, Prime Minister Turnbull and your personal fear of the far-right in your own government.

Monday, 4 September 2017

Mocking ACL's Lyle Shelton and parodying anti-same sex marriage advertising is about to reach peak viral


Here are the latest in my timeline – enjoy!

Wednesday, 30 August 2017

The anti-same sex marriage lobby and below-the-radar bedfellows


There is not much transparency in the same-sex marriage debate ahead of the voluntary postal vote.

Take these websites which appear to have been purpose created in the last twelve months wth the deliberate aim of influencing voters on a specific issue…….

The Big Deal About Marriage at http://www.thebigdealaboutmarriage.com.au and It’s OK To Say NO at http://www.oktosayno.com.au.

These sites are registered by the Trustee for Antidote and Dean Millington according to Whois DOMAINTOOLS.

The Trustee for Antidote is a discretionary services management trust which has been operating since 2005 under the trading name ANTIDOTE Marketing and Dean Millington is a director.


The company does not appear to list any individual or anti same-sex marriage lobby group amongst its predominately pharma & health services clients.

According to Antidote website and Millington amongst these clients/business partners are:

Pfizer
Sanofi
Allergan
Novartis
AstraZeneca
Menarini
Link
Fresenius Kabi
Princeton Health
Princeton Digital
Ergo Advertising
VIVA Communications
PracticeProfiles
PharmEngage
Data Jukebox
DCM Partners
.

I wonder if these companies feel comfortable being (albeit remotely) associated with two anti-gay marriage websites which produce what are essentially simplistic, irrelevant, nonsensical or downright dubious conclusions from sometimes misrepresented data and studies.

For instance Pfizer Australia states on its own website:

Pfizer Australia employs more than 1,700 scientists, chemists, doctors, marketers, machine operators and other professional colleagues. We provide opportunities in a range of fields including medical, research and development, manufacturing, health economics, marketing and sales and regulatory affairs.
Pfizer Australia is committed to the recruitment, advancement and fair treatment of individuals without discrimination based on factors such as race, disability, sex, age, ethnic or national origin, religion, citizenship, family or marital status, political beliefs, sexual preference or other factors included in the Equal Employment Opportunity Legislation. Our Pfizer Values have ensured that this statement is more than a legal obligation. It is a way of life and a business-driven philosophy.

One suspects that this large multinational corporation would perhaps prefer to hold a neutral position on the current same-sex marriage debate in this country.

Given that these linked anti-same sex marriage websites offer site visitors a booklet written by Dr Con Kafataris, a member of the Christian Democratic Party (CDP), who publicly promotes “the case for traditional and Biblical marriage” one might suspect either the doctor or the CDP financed this website.

Either way, at the time of writing this post these websites were careful to make no mention of ownership or funding details.

Sunday, 30 July 2017

Australian Government guide to when it is extinguishing our traditional freedoms, rights and privileges


In 2015 Australian Attorney-General and Liberal Senator for Queensland George Brandis thoughtfully provided voters with a guide to assist them with analysing whether federal legislation rides roughshod over traditional rights, freedoms and privileges.

This guide can be found in the Australian Law Reform Commission Report 129, Traditional Rights and Freedoms— Encroachments by Commonwealth Laws:

The Terms of Reference, provided by the Attorney-General, Senator the Hon George Brandis QC, state that laws that encroach on traditional rights, freedoms and privileges should be understood to refer to laws that:

interfere with freedom of speech;
interfere with freedom of religion;
interfere with freedom of association;
interfere with freedom of movement;
interfere with vested property rights;
retrospectively change legal rights and obligations;
create offences with retrospective application;
alter criminal law practices based on the  principle of a fair trial;
reverse or shift the burden of proof;
exclude the right to claim the privilege against self-incrimination;
abrogate client legal privilege;
apply strict or absolute liability to all physical elements of a criminal offence;
permit an appeal from an acquittal;
deny procedural fairness to persons affected by the exercise of public power;
inappropriately delegate legislative power to the executive;
authorise the commission of a tort;
disregard common law protection of personal reputation;
give executive immunities a wide application;
restrict access to the courts; and
interfere with any other similar legal right, freedom or privilege

WARNING: Don’t attempt a drinking game with this list as you may succumb to acute alcohol poisoning before reaching the end.

Friday, 23 June 2017

About those rules for joining the Liberal-Nationals' cosy little citizenship club.......



This bill raises the bar on applications for citizenship and increases the power of the Minister for Immigration and Border Protection, Peter Dutton, over the citizenship process - including granting him the power to override Administrative Appeals Tribunal decisions on citizenship applications.

One of the components of this bill is the introduction of an English language test, which means that with few exceptions applicants between 16 and 60 years of age will need to demonstrate competent English language listening, speaking, reading and writing skills before being able to sit the citizenship test.

Applicants will be required to undertake a separate upfront English language test with an accredited provider and achieve a minimum level of ‘competent’.

According to the Immigration Minister the minimum level of competency is the IELTS General Training language test at  “Level 6 of the General stream focuses on "basic survival skills in broad social and workplace contexts".

This particular test has three components – listening, reading and writing - and takes the better part of three hours to complete.

An example of the type of questions contained in the General Training reading test can be found here.

There is a strong likelihood that between est. 7-16 million Australians (including those born in Australia of Australian parents) would fail this test if they were required to take it today.

The Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) recorded the results of direct measurement of three critical information-processing skills: literacy; numeracy; and problem solving in technology-rich environments and the 16.3 million people whose skills were measured included those not in the workforce, those in employment and those without a job.

In 2016 ABS recorded:


By 2011-12 ABS was stating:


In the 2011-12 round of testing 43% of participants born in Australia and 51% of participants born outside of Australia had English literacy levels below Level 3.

The chances of the majority of these people, regardless of whether they are citizens or residents with visas, being able to pass Peter Dutton’s new English language test is slim to say the least.

According to Catherine Elder, a world-leading expert at Melbourne University and president of the International Language Testing Association; "A level six on both tests requires you to be highly literate and to be able to do things like write an essay. It would take a great deal of time and be beyond the reach of many people who come to Australia."

The fact of the matter is that in 2011-12 it was people who had attained a higher education qualification (Bachelor degree and above) who were more likely than others to have achieved a score at Level 3 or above in literacy and numeracy, and Level 2 or above in problem solving in technology-rich environments.

So according to the new citizenship rules being supported by millionaire parliamentarians Malcolm Bligh Turnbull and Peter Craig Dutton, it would appear that only those that managed to acquire a decent education need apply to join the Liberal-Nationals’ cosy little citizenship club.1
  
Footnote:

1. In 1788 when the forbears of many individuals and families - which are both grand and humble members of  Australian society of today - first stumbled off those early British convict ships onto shore the vast majority of them would have been illiterate. On the basis of poor literacy levels and criminal records Malcolm Bligh Turnbull's many convict forbears wouldn't be allowed to become permanent residents much less citizens today under the new rules.

Tuesday, 13 June 2017

Are Berejiklian & Co attempting to pull an environmental sleight of hand on NSW communities who value their green and biodiverse landscapes?


On  23 November 2016 the NSW Biodiversity Conservation Act 2016 (repealing the Threatened Species Conservation Act 1995, the Nature Conservation Trust Act 2001 and the animal and plant provisions of the National Parks and Wildlife Act 1974) became law.

On the same day the NSW Local Land Services Amendment Act 2016 (repealing the Native Vegetation Act 2003 and amending the Local Land Services Act 2013 in relation to native vegetation land management in rural areas) also became law.

Currently the NSW Berejiklian Coalition Government has these documents on exhibition:
Regulations and other key products to support the Government's new Biodiversity Conservation Act 2016 and Local Land Services Amendment Act 2016, are on exhibition for six weeks from 10 May until 21 June.
Facts sheets and guides that provide detailed information on key topic areas are also available to assist you in making a submission.
Loud warning bells should be ringing in all ears – not least because the draft regulation document State Environmental Planning Policy (Vegetation) 2017 is nowhere to be found.
Instead there is a slick 22-page Explanation of Intended Effect booklet (highlighted in red) which is not worth the paper it is printed on at this point in time.

Why the Berejiklian Government assumes that it is best practice to place major policy change on exhibition with a crucial SEPP not yet drafted is unexplained.

Nor is there any indication as to why this as yet unformed vegetation SEPP is to be signed into government regulation in eleven weeks' time without voters having the opportunity to assess and comment on its precise provisions and wording. 

One has to suspect that the reason for such sleight of hand is that State Environmental Planning Policy (Vegetation) 2017 will contain a workaround for property developers to clear environmentally valuable native vegetation using the new permit system long before land comes before a council for consideration as the subject of a development application.

As the Explanation of Intended Effect now stands it appears that local government will have less control over clearing of native vegetation than it had in the past.
The Better Planning Network (BPN), a state-wide not for profit grassroots volunteer-based organisation, has also highlighted the following issues:

The detailed map of land classified as 'Environmentally Sensitive' is not publicly available.

- The map of Category 1 and Category 2 rural land (ie- land that can be cleared under self-assessable codes or otherwise) is not publicly available.

- The mapping of core koala habitat across NSW has not been completed (we are aware of only 5 NSW Councils that have identified core koala habitat under SEPP 44 Koala Habitat Protection.)

- The details of the Biodiversity Offsets Calculator are not publicly available.
It is impossible for the public to provide accurate feedback on the draft Regulations, Codes and SEPP without access to the above elements.  It is also irresponsible and risky for the Government to operationalise its legislation and regulations before these elements have been finalised. ​

On this basis, we urge you to contact the NSW Premier and the responsible Ministers (UptonRoberts and Blair) to ask them to: 
- ​Extend the public exhibition of all Regulations and Codes under the Biodiversity Conservation Act 2017, as well as the Vegetation SEPP, until the components listed above are made publicly available.

​- ​Ensure that operation of the Biodiversity Conservation Act 2017 does not commence until all relevant mapping, included that listed above, has been completed and reviewed for accuracy by key stakeholders.

An analysis of the draft Regulations, Codes and SEPP has been provided though the Stand Up For Nature Submission Guide. We are preparing our own draft submission which we will circulate to you as soon as possible. However, accurate comment on the full package is not possible until all of the components listed above are made publicly available.

The Environmental Defenders Office NSW (EDO) uploaded this video which walks through the documents on exhibition:



EDO 1 June 2017 seminar slides can be found here. Included in these slides is some advice on what to cover in submissions.

According to the EDO "There are some serious weaknesses" in these draft documents which are intended to become operational on 25 August 2017.

These include:

* Repeal of Native Vegetation Act and environmental standards that go with it, replaced with Codes
* Heavy reliance on flexible and indirect biodiversity offsets – weaker standards in the BAM and for biocertification
* Conservation gains aren't guaranteed in law, but dependent on funding decisions
* There is significant discretion for decision-makers
* Significant risk of policy failure

Locally one can add to this list the fact that Clarence Valley Council has stated:

A review of the draft Sensitive Biodiversity Values Land Map released by OEH reveals that it is missing areas of the Clarence Valley LGA which are known to contain habitat for threatened and critically endangered species or significant biodiversity value (for example core koala habitat identified in the Ashby-Woombah-Iluka koala plan of management, as well as significant areas of littoral rainforest and coastal wetlands).

Concerned residents can have their say until 21 June 2017 by:

Or writing to the Land Management and Biodiversity Conservation Reforms Office,
PO Box A290, Sydney South NSW 1232

NOTE

At least one local government, Clarence Valley Council, has requested an extension of time to make a submission on these reforms and to date this formal request has been met with deafening silence.

Thursday, 13 April 2017

Turnbull Government dragging its heels on legislation to protect vulnerable workers?


The Age, 6 April 2017:

The peak body for the $150 billion franchise sector has launched an intense behind-the-scenes lobbying campaign to convince MPs to water down Turnbull government legislation designed to prevent future worker exploitation scandals.

Spearheaded by former Liberal minister Bruce Billson, the Franchise Council of Australia is targeting the government, opposition and crossbenchers as it seeks to pressure Employment Minister Michaelia Cash into changing course on the bill.

It has also directed its members - which include 7-Eleven, Pizza Hut, Caltex and other companies accused of underpaying their workers - to bombard MPs with calls and letters about the Fair Work Amendment (Protecting Vulnerable Workers) Bill.

The campaign comes as petrol giant United Petroleum became the latest company to be embroiled in an exploitation scandal, with the workplace regulator blasting it for rampant underpayment of workers across its franchise network. United Petroleum is not listed as a FCA member.

Mr Billson personally pressed the franchisor case with visits, calls and texts to MPs during the most recent parliamentary sitting fortnight in Canberra.

And in emails that have begun arriving in MP's inboxes in recent days, franchisors argue it is "unreasonable" to single out the franchising sector.

"The real issue here is that the risk of worker underpayment exists across the economy," the missives read.

The government's bill was introduced into Parliament last month but subsequently disappeared from the agenda, fuelling speculation from the Opposition that the council's campaign was succeeding.

However Senator Cash said the government remained "firmly committed to this policy"…..

The Franchise Council originally sought to kill off the bill entirely, warning it would lead to unavoidable unintended consequences.

It is now arguing for extensive amendments and is particularly concerned about the world-first "joint liability" provisions, claiming they will negatively impact investment, growth and employment.

It also wants courts and regulators to be explicitly forced to take a businesses size and resources into account, and further clarity about what "reasonable steps" actually means….

Franchises employ close to 500,000 people across 73,000 outlets across Australia and contribute up to 10 per cent of Australia's GDP.

The Age, 7 April 2017:

Shocking cases of wage fraud in the big brands of 7-ElevenDomino'sCaltex and United Petroleum, ricochet across the country, prompting all sides of politics to promise new legislation to rein in systemic wage fraud.

Or so we thought.

In the weeks before the election the Turnbull government promised to change the law to make franchisors jointly responsible with their franchisees for workplace abuses if they have significant control or influence on the franchisee……

But the sector decided to have none of that.

Enter Bruce Billson, the former small business minister who became chairman of the franchise lobby group just before the last election. His role as chairman of the Franchise Council of Australia has been to tell anyone who will listen that the proposed laws are too draconian.

It was a smart move by the FCA. In one newspaper article Billson described the new laws as "a media-inspired regulatory misadventure to introduce unprecedented laws that fit up the franchisor for the Fair Work Act breaches of their franchisees where they have had no actual involvement".

The article worked itself up into a fervour, arguing that the laws represent an "existential threat" to the successful franchise model of enterprise.

The reality is convenience store giant 7-Eleven became embroiled in a systemic wage fraud scandal in August 2015. It shocked the nation. The business model was flawed and head office agreed to repay exploited workers. More franchisors should follow its lead.

The Protecting Vulnerable Workers Bill was designed to do just that. It was introduced on March 1, with the legislation listed on March 20.

But it quietly disappeared from the program last week with two other Fair Work Bills listed in its place, without explanation.

When it will be re-listed is anyone's guess but it is unlikely to be the next sitting as it will be dominated by the federal budget.

According to the Australian Parliament website the Fair Work Amendment (Protecting Vulnerable Workers) Bill 2017: "amends the Fair Work Act 2009 to: increase maximum civil penalties for certain serious contraventions of the Act; hold franchisors and holding companies responsible for certain contraventions of the Act by their franchisees or subsidiaries where they knew or ought reasonably to have known of the contraventions and failed to take reasonable steps to prevent them; clarify the prohibition on employers unreasonably requiring their employees to make payments in relation to the performance of work; provide the Fair Work Ombudsman (FWO) with evidence-gathering powers similar to those available to corporate regulators such as the Australian Securities and Investment Commission and the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission; and prohibit the hindering or obstructing of the FWO and or an inspector in the performance or his or her functions or powers, or the giving of false or misleading information or documents.”

On 23 March 2017 this bill was referred to the Senate Education and Employment Legislation Committee.

Submissions were invited but none are listed on the Inquiry’s webpage to date. Public hearings are being held in Canberra on Wednesday 12 April and in Sydney on Thursday 13 April 2017.

Those giving evidence before the Senate  inquiry are:

Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry (ACCI)
Council of Small Business Australia (COSBOA)
Franchise Council of Australia
National Retailers Association
The Australian Industry Group (AIG)
McDonalds Australia
Department of Employment
Fair Work Ombudsman
Fair Work Commission
West Justice (Western Community Legal Centre)
Prof. Andrew Stewart
Gerard de Valence
Australian Council of Trade Unions (ACTU)
Shop, Distributive and Allied Employees’ Association (SDA)
One other to be announced
           
The Committee is due to report to Parliament on 9 May 2017.

Sunday, 21 August 2016

Liberal Democratic Party Senator for NSW David Leyonhjelm appears intent on publicly making a fool of himself


This is what Sydney Morning Herald journalist Mark Kenny had to say about Liberal Democratic Party Senator for NSW David Leyonhjelm on 8 August 2016:

David Leyonhjelm is a boorish, supercilious know-all with the empathy of a besser block. And that new Hansonite conspiracy theorist from Queensland? He's an absurdist fringe-dweller and fellow hate-speech apologist. It's a case of wacky and wackier.

Neither of these self-promoting misanthropes would have the first idea about entrenched discrimination. Yet both are experts.

You may disagree with this harsh critique and probably think it unbecoming of a serious media outlet. But offensive to them, it is not. And that's the point.

You see, this gormless duo has declared, with all their angry-white-male certitude, that a verbal abuser cannot cause offence or humiliation. It is all in the mind of the recipient.

In their peerless assessment of the lived experience of all minorities, they have decreed that the fault of hate-speech does not lie with the utterer of a given slur or insult, no matter how cruel, baseless, or humiliating. Rather, the "offence" lies with the recipient - the subject who simply "decides" to be affronted.

Infantile reasoning, but there it is……..

Leyonhjelm, who has been sitting in the Australia senate since July 2014, has reported taken the matter of being described as having angry-white-male certitude to the Human Rights Commission allegedly lodging a complaint under section 18c of the Racial Discrimination Act 1975 – the very section of the act he is keen to see abolished.

This is an excerpt from Section 18C of this act:

RACIAL DISCRIMINATION ACT 1975 - SECT 18C
Offensive behaviour because of race, colour or national or ethnic origin
             (1)  It is unlawful for a person to do an act, otherwise than in private, if:
                     (a)  the act is reasonably likely, in all the circumstances, to offend, insult, humiliate or intimidate another person or a group of people; and
                     (b)  the act is done because of the race, colour or national or ethnic origin of the other person or of some or all of the people in the group.
Note:          Subsection (1) makes certain acts unlawful. Section 46P of the Australian Human Rights Commission Act 1986 allows people to make complaints to the Australian Human Rights Commission about unlawful acts. However, an unlawful act is not necessarily a criminal offence. Section 26 says that this Act does not make it an offence to do an act that is unlawful because of this Part, unless Part IV expressly says that the act is an offence…..

The senator’s behaviour is suspect because he would be well aware that airing his supposedly offended feelings will probably go nowhere because of Section 18D of that same act:

RACIAL DISCRIMINATION ACT 1975 - SECT 18D
Exemptions
                   Section 18C does not render unlawful anything said or done reasonably and in good faith:
                     (a)  in the performance, exhibition or distribution of an artistic work; or
                     (b)  in the course of any statement, publication, discussion or debate made or held for any genuine academic, artistic or scientific purpose or any other genuine purpose in the public interest; or
                     (c)  in making or publishing:
                              (i)  a fair and accurate report of any event or matter of public interest; or
                             (ii)  a fair comment on any event or matter of public interest if the comment is an expression of a genuine belief held by the person making the comment.

New Matilda was less than impressed by both Leyonhjelm and Roberts on 16 August 2016:
Liberal Democrats Senator David Leyonhjelm, during an August 2016 
appearance on ABC's Insider's program.

News broke yesterday that Liberal Democrat Senator David Leyonhjelm has lodged a complaint with the Australian Human Rights Commission, alleging he was racially vilified by Fairfax journalist Mark Kenny, who called him an ‘angry white man’. Chris Graham explains why Leyonhjelm will lose, why the current debate around 18c is a ridiculous furphy, and why free speech has never really been under threat……

One Nation’s Malcolm Roberts tried to claim on ABC Insiders recently that 18c was introduced by “Julia Gillard to nobble Andrew Bolt”.

One Nation Senator Malcolm Roberts, 
appearing on ABC’s Insiders program in August 2016.

In fact, 18c was introduced by Keating government Attorney General Michael Lavarch in 1995. That’s three years before Julia Gillard was even elected to parliament, 15 years before she became Prime Minister, and 16 years before Bolt was successfully sued under the 18c provisions. It also happens to be about three or four years before Bolt started writing his rants for the Herald Sun (in the late 1990s).

George Brandis made headlines in 2014 while railing against 18c when he remarked in parliament that ‘everyone has the right to be a bigot’. Which is strictly true, but under Australian law, our Attorney General seemed not to understand that there are so sanctions for being ‘said bigot’.

Since Bolt lost, all the usual suspects have railed against 18c. They need to let it go. Really. So does the media. There is literally nothing to see here. Free speech is not under attack.

You cannot have a rational discussion about 18c without acknowledging the existence of 18d. But that is what conservative whingers keep doing, and the media keep letting them get away with it. It has to stop.

Of all those whingers, David Leyonhjelm is perhaps one of the least interesting, but that brings us neatly back to his boy’s own adventure in the Australian Human Rights Commission, and the other major reason why Leyonhjelm will lose his case.

Ego.

Shortly after news broke of his complaint, Leyonhjelm took to the airwaves to boast that he wasn’t really insulted, offended, humiliated and/or intimidated. He was just trying it on to expose how bad section 18c really was.

The work of the AHRC is extremely important. It has labored under funding cuts by the Coalition, and yet despite this, has still delivered crucial work, such as its inquiry into abuse in immigration detention.

And yet, despite the pressure on the Commission, an elected parliamentary representative appears to have tried to spark a government inquiry purely for sh*ts and giggles…..

Wednesday, 17 August 2016

For over 200 years in Australia we've been destroying the land that feeds us and we refuse to stop


"There's No Task Too Big · 24 Hour Service · Reliable Land Clearing · 25 Years Experience
Services: Crane Work, Land Clearing, Stump Grinding, Tree Surgeons, Tree Chippers, Tree Cutting,….."
[Online advertisement for an Australian business, 13 August 2016]

We have sand hills in Australia which were caused by overgrazing sheep and desert boundaries are slowly encroaching in semi-arid zones.

Two million hectares of land and 20,000 farms are affected by dryland salinity because of over clearing for cropping.
In 2000, some 1,600 km of rail, 19,900 km of roads, and 68 towns were at risk of damage due to salinity [Australian Bureau of Statistics, Measures of Australia's Progress, 2010].

Inappropriate land and water management resulted in exposure or drainage of acid sulfate soils on coastal floodplains and wetlands resulting in periodic outbreaks of fish disease and/or large fish kills.

Sections of the World Heritage listed Great Barrier Reef are being smothered by topsoil washing into the ocean from agricultural land.

These are just a few of the mistakes we have made in the last 220 years, yet knowing of the problems caused we still do this with very little thought of inevitable consequences………

WWF Australia, media release, 12 August 2016:

An analysis by WWF-Australia reveals that an estimated 40.7 million trees were destroyed in Queensland in 2014-15.

"That's more than one tree bulldozed every second," said WWF-Australia conservation scientist Dr Martin Taylor.

Crucially, 16.1 million of the destroyed trees were in Great Barrier Reef catchments increasing the amount of sludge flowing out to reef waters and harming coral and sea grass.

"Tree clearing is out of control. If we want to save the Reef and stop the decline of koalas we cannot continue to destroy trees at such an alarming rate," he said.

Dr Taylor said the official Queensland Government figures for clearing in 2014-15 contained a disturbing statistic: 71% of the clearing was mature forests that had never been cleared or bushland and forests over 28 years old.

Methodology for the estimate of the number of trees destroyed

Dr Martin Taylor examined the SLATS map and removed any area that was not forest or woodland before the 2014-15 clearing.

Dr Taylor also removed any area of trees destroyed by natural processes such as cyclones (which is categorised by SLATS)

Then Dr Taylor applied the peer-reviewed eco-regional tree density model of Crowther et al and calculated the number of trees cleared.

What 296,000 hectares looks like



On 3 May 2016 the NSW Government released a draft Biodiversity Conservation Bill and draft Local Land Services (Amendment) Bill.  These bills will repeal and replace the Threatened Species Conservation Act 1995, the Nature Conservation Trust Act, parts of the National Parks & Wildlife Act; parts of the Environmental Planning and Assessment Act 1979, and the Native Vegetation Act.


A report on vegetation clearing quietly released by the Baird Government has highlighted a disturbing trend of increasing illegal land clearing in NSW.
The data provides a report card on the status, regulation, protection and extent of native vegetation in NSW, and clearly shows the rate of land clearing is increasing even as Mike Baird readies his destructive reforms to weaken land clearing laws.
The report shows clearing skyrocketed from 40,500 ha in 2011/12 to 105,900 ha in 2012/13 (the most recent data available).
Illegal clearing that is defined as "unexplained" agricultural woody clearing is has increased, jumping by 52% in the last two years alone:

Year
"Unexplained" agricultural woody clearing (hectares)
2010/11
3,695
2011/12
4,269
2012/13
5,615

In 2012/13 there was 9,100 ha of clearing on private land, and a massive 60% of that clearing is unexplained.
Clearing is also increasing across the board, including clearing on farms, infrastructure, mining, forestry, and the impact of fire on vegetation.


The state's farmers have lopped paddock trees at an accelerating rate in the past 18 months even before a new land-clearing law eases controls further, government data shows.

The new figures, which reveal the rate of clearing of paddock trees has more than doubled since November 2014, come as the Wentworth Group of Concerned Scientists wrote to all MPs to call for a reversal of "retrograde changes" planned in the new Biodiversity Conservation act.

NSW farmers used a new self-assessment code to remove 21,716 paddock trees – or more than 50 a day – over the past year and a half.

The rate, at an average of about 50 per day, was 140 per cent more than the average over the previous seven years, data from the Office of Environment and Heritage showed. Paddock trees, judged to be single or small patches of trees, make up 40 per cent of remaining woodland cover, OEH says.

Satellite monitoring by OEH would probably have detected even more clearing but the public has been left in the dark because the O'Farrell-Baird governments had failed to release a native vegetation report since 2013, Mehreen Faruqi, the Greens environment spokeswoman, said.

The Greens had also sought information on the number of applications OEH received and what if any compliance of the self-assessment codes they conducted, Dr Faruqi said.

"If almost 22,000 trees can be removed under the existing law, then it will be a disaster when new laws that further facilitate land clearing are brought in," she said, adding the latest tree-felling numbers were "the tip of the iceberg".

A spokeswoman for Niall Blair, Minister for Primary Industries, did not address the scale of tree clearing on farms, but said "the proposed Biodiversity Conservation package aims to reverse the decline of biodiversity in NSW because the current system isn't working".
‎"The NSW Government is currently seeking feedback on the draft reforms and stakeholders including environmental groups and farmers are encouraged to put forward a submission before June 28," she said.

Labor's environment spokeswoman, Penny Sharpe, said the figures "ring alarm bells on how far the current biodiversity laws have already been watered down".

"If these laws proceed in their current form, there will be a return to land clearing on a scale unseen for decades in NSW with catastrophic impacts on native animals, soil, water and greenhouse gas emissions," Ms Sharpe said.

Director and Member of the Wentworth Group of Concerned Scientists Peter Crosier writing in The Guardian, 6 July 2016:

Laws to stop the broadscale clearing of large areas of native trees and plants in New South Wales have reduced land and water degradation, helped Australia meets its commitments to cut greenhouse emissions and slowed the rate of species extinction. The Baird government now plans to wind back all of these benefits.
At the 2015 election, the Baird government promised that a review of these laws would "enhance the state's biodiversity for the benefit of current and future generations." It was on this basis that the Wentworth Group of Concerned Scientists supported this review, because we saw an opportunity to modernise the current legislation leading to enhanced biodiversity outcomes, increased financial support for farmers to restore degraded land, while also promoting economic development across NSW.
However, the Wentworth Group has serious concerns about many of the changes announced recently. We believe that these changes, if not addressed, will breach the government's election promise.
Over-clearing of the landscape has resulted in NSW having some of the most degraded land in Australia, with only 10% of native vegetation across the state remaining in close to natural condition. The Native Vegetation Act was introduced in 2003 to address this problem.
This act has been remarkably successful in reducing the level of land clearing from as much as 100,000 hectares per year in the 1980s (the equivalent of half of Sydney's urban area) to less than 12,000 hectares per year now.
This legislation was supported by the NSW Farmers Association as well as environment groups such as WWF, because it brought an end to broadscale land clearing in a way that also promoted sustainable farming. As an example, since the Native Vegetation Act was introduced, approval has been given to manage over 7m hectares of native vegetation on farms across NSW (over 40 times the size of Sydney's urban area), including the eradication of weeds and management of invasive native scrub. This system was designed by farmers and scientists working together. It shows just how effective laws can be in securing the long-term protection of NSW's natural assets while also improving the viability of farming enterprises.
While some of the government's announced changes to these current laws are most welcome, we believe that other elements will substantially weaken existing protections. These retrograde changes risk overwhelming the positive changes, returning NSW to an era of unsustainable land clearing, resulting in more degraded land, more damage to river systems, increased carbon emissions, and the loss of habitat critical to the survival of threatened species.
This would not only be a clear breach of the government's election promise, it will also damage the reputations of those farmers who want to be good stewards, the vast majority of whom are unaffected by the current laws.
One of the positive elements of the announced reforms is a $240m five-year private land conservation fund. This money should be used to help farmers manage native vegetation of high conservation value that should not be cleared, and to offset the cumulative smaller losses that result from route agricultural practices, such as clearing along fence lines. It should not be used to subsidise the broadscale clearing that will result from weakening of the land clearing controls. That is simply a taxpayer subsidy to farmers to degrade land.
The increased greenhouse emissions that will result from these changes means that taxpayers will be hit twice, because it will make our national commitments to reduce Australia's emissions more difficult, resulting in higher costs to taxpayers and other sectors of the economy.
The vast majority of farmers in NSW are, or want to be, good stewards of the land – where healthy landscapes go hand-in-hand with a productive economy. A remarkable 93% of Australian farmers say they practice landcare on their farms.
There are many ways we can support our farmers to manage their land sustainably, by providing them with financial incentives to restore native vegetation on degraded land. This will improve the value of their farms, help reduce Australia's greenhouse emissions, slow the rate of species extinction, enhance rural productivity and create more prosperous rural communities.
We ask the Baird government to amend the draft legislation so that it truly does achieve their objectives of cutting red tape, facilitating ecologically sustainable development, and in doing so honour the promise to enhance the state's biodiversity for the benefit of current and future generations.
Written on behalf of the Wentworth Group of Concerned Scientists